Monday, April 25, 2005

New Hope

Last week was very busy for me, but my sister was having a harder time of it. Her husband had a 12-hour surgery to remove his pancreas after suffering for years with painful, chronic pancreatitis. This procedure is a new, radical option offered as a last resort, but may also be a huge advance in possibly curing some forms of diabetes. The surgery and his story is reported here.
In a 12-hour, dual-stage surgery known to be performed at only two other centers in the U.S., doctors at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) on Tuesday returned a patient's own insulin-producing cells to him after surgically removing his pancreas to eliminate constant, severe pain from chronic pancreatitis. The patient, Leonard Stewart, 47, of Panama City, Fla., remained anesthetized in the operating room at UAB Hospital through removal of his entire pancreas and the hours-long wait for the pancreatic islet cells to be processed in a specialized UAB laboratory. The cells were then returned to the operating room and infused into the patient's liver, where they have begun to produce insulin.

This is a very important advance in medicine that may ultimately help thousands, if not millions of diabetics.

Last I heard he is doing very well and is requiring very little insulin once a day. The hope is that eventually he will make all of his own insulin. I pray it works, they've both been through a lot these past couple of years.